Perceptions of nursing have been linked to students' decisions to enter the nursing
profession and their decision to continue in or withdraw from nursing programs. As
part of a longitudinal study, the Nursing Attitude Questionnaire and Nursing Orientation
Tool were used to explore the perceptions of nursing of students in a baccalaureate
nursing program. The study began with 213 students, of which 140 completed the study.
The Nursing Attitude Questionnaire (NAQ) measures attitudes towards nursing using
statements that reflect nursing roles, values, responsibilities, characteristics of
nurses/nursing, professionalism, and stereotypes of society. The Nursing Orientation
Tool measures students' orientation to nursing using three sub-scales: caring, nursing
expertise, and life orientation. Overall, the students held a positive image of nursing
and total scores for the NAQ became significantly more positive as students progressed
in the program. Life orientation continued to be the most dominant orientation to
nursing over the four years.